First Look at Life by You from Sims/Second Life Dev Rod Humble — a Simulation/Sandbox Game of Head-Spinning Ambition

Here’s the first in-depth preview of Life by You, the new life simulation game by ex-Linden Lab CEO / former EA/Sims lead Rod Humble (who pops up at around 8:35) in this video.

While an early teaser somewhat suggested it would be a Sims clone, that superficial appearance is deceiving: By the team’s description at least, Life by You is vastly more ambitious: It’s a head-spinningly deep and vast life simulator, as if Second Life and The Sims and a Peter Molyneux “God game” were wrapped together with today’s technology and social media to become a completely new genre of its own.

In other words, an elevator pitch for Life by Me might be:

“The Sims, but where you control the whole world.”

Or, “Single-player Second Life where you can also roleplay as Linden Lab, if you like.” 

Here’s what I mean, highlighting some features that jumped out at me in the video:

Life by You Sims Rod Humble Second Life

  • Take over any character: You’re not just in charge of a Sims-type family, you can “become” any NPC in the game world.
  • No loading screens: Seamlessly jump from one part of the world to the other — i.e., it’s a dynamic, contiguous simulation.
  • NPCs are “alive”: You can eavesdrop on their conversations, which are dynamically created, and talk with anyone. (No Simlish.)
  • Truly open world: “It really is all-encompassing,” as Rod puts it. “All of the game systems use the open world. None of it uses rabbit holes — it’s all running, all the time.”
  • No really, truly open world: “You can jump forward a decade at the click of a button,” Rod notes by example.

Oh also, vehicles are fully playable in first-person. I.E., this could be a Grand Theft Auto competitor too. 

And that’s just the gameplay piece. It’s not enough to say Life by You comes with user customization tools, because the game will come with all the tools the developers themselves used to create the game itself.

Some highlights there:

  • “Every 3D object you see, you can modify.” Yes, every object. Also add scripts, to incorporate new interactivity. 
  • Create and customize NPCs. 
  • Create NPC conversations through an in-game tool.
  • Batch import and export conversations with other players so they can have share your stories.

Take a pause on that last point:

In other words, you can create entire adventure games and interactive dramas in Life by Me… which you can then share with others. If that really works as described, it’s seriously innovative.

Much more here. My only slight complaint so far is the avatars and setting seem a bit too generic, but then again, they’re including the tools to change all of those.

The trailer (which you can watch below) barely touches on what the Life by You team is actually creating, but that’s understandable, because the full vision defies categorization.  No word yet on multiplayer, but my sense is that the devs are aiming to make the game’s official Discord / YouTube the multiplayer experience. No word either on a user-to-user marketplace, but that seems inevitable.

It’s funny. I tried multiple times to interview Rod Humble for my book, because I was curious why he wasn’t able to successfully gamify Second Life when he was Linden Lab’s CEO. He kept putting me off, alluding to some huge secret project he was working on.

Turns out Rod couldn’t talk about Second Life, because he was heads-down building what’s basically Second Life XXL. 

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